Final DigiMark 2.3 Blog

Graduating from DigiMark 2.3

This quarter I discovered that I really enjoy how lifestyle marketing and digital marketing meet. Like, for example, where the boating industry meets digital marketing. Below is a current example of a business utilizing an integrated marketing plan that uses tools I have learned about from DigiMark 2.3. I read this article from Discover Boating, and I genuinely feel I am capable of helping them implement and plan this marketing campaign. Some of their key points were content marketing, web advertising (search and display ads), and social media marketing. Having read this article at the end of this quarter, I think made all the difference. We’ve covered all the topics that Discover Boating has in its 2014 plan. As I said before, I believe this is where my marketing career will take me, where digital marketing can effectively market the boating lifestyle. 

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Marketing for a Fortune 500 Company 

If I were to interview with a Fortune 500 company, I would have a different approach then my boating example above. Rather, I would focus on topics we covered, like database marketing, SQL, coding and big data. Having said that, the topics that Discover Boating is focusing on would still be important and vice versa with boating and database marketing. But I feel that bigger companies across the board need more and more students with marketing degrees that are able to practice effective database marketing with knowledge in coding, SQL and big data. Just as we talked about this quarter, coding is becoming the language of the future and the world is increasingly becoming centered around big data. I think the important conversation point in the interview would be the fact that the
money is where analyzing and interpreting the data allows for effective business decisions. 

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Mobile Payments: Reinventing Commerce

Are mobile payments the next efficient, sustainable discussion?

Should mobile payments be similar to clean, renewable energy and other sustainable/efficient topics? Reading articles about mobile payments I couldn’t help but think about a future, but not so distant world, where paying with our mobile devices is the universal norm. It cuts out the middle man (credit card providers) and puts the money in the “virtual” hands of the players that matter. Rather us, the business we are dealing with and the innovative business that came up with the mobile payment platform that we are using. It cuts out and eliminates businesses like MasterCard and Visa. Good, or bad thing? At this point I think it’s a good thing. A scenario that in practice, benefits the businesses that matter: us individuals, the businesses we buy from, and the mobile payment business. I think it’s good because it rewards a company, like LevelUp, Google Wallet and/or Square, that are striving to create a product/service (mobile payment) that is a creative, innovative way to make everyone’s lives more efficient. I began by comparing mobile payments with renewable energy because my mind raced down a path that led to a futuristic world where technology is the centerpiece of us living more efficient/sustainable. Essentially, our mobile devices would be controllers for our lives. Mobile payments are an entry to that kind of living. They are also an interesting discussion that is not quite figured out completely yet.

Noting the Flaws

I question whether or not cutting out the middle men (credit card providers) is a good thing? The answer is whether or not I feel safe with all my personal information with credit card providers or solely with a mobile payment business that is providing for us and every retailer. If it were the case where a mobile payment platform had all of our information, a security breach would be very detrimental. In the case of credit cards, many of us have experienced the misplacement and/or theft of our cards that have led to heartache and annoyance. A real example going on right now is the case of the Starbucks app. The app allows customers to buy coffee through the app. Starbucks can be said to be leading the pack when it comes to mobile payment (18,000 stores across 50 countries). However, they experienced a potential security breach when it became public knowledge that the app saves customer information in plain text making it vulnerable to hackers. A hacker would have to have access to the phone, a computer and know how to open the files to successful breach the security of the app. Difficult, but possible. Matters like this would deter from mobile payment platforms to become popular and safe to the majority. There is the argument that credit cards work just fine and there is no need for a mobile payment app. But I’d say that it would be very helpful to carry once less important item on our persons. Integrating our phones with our wallets is very efficient. It just hasn’t quite reached its sustainability stage. Location services with passwords make finding our lost phones easier than finding our lost wallets.

Reinventing Commerce

We can see the bobbing and weaving of the mobile payment businesses. LevelUp is an example of introducing a new twist to the plot with their ‘connected apps.’ Their ‘connected app’ allows any online website or app to use LevelUp as the payment tool. It strives to go beyond just simply ordering pizza and paying through LevelUp. “The possibilities for LevelUp connected apps are limitless; basically any developer with some kind of transactional element can build a LevelUp connected app. A true payments layer and connected apps ecosystem makes the benefits of LevelUp accessible to way more businesses than ever before.” LevelUp is attempting to reinvent the commerce world with a connected web of businesses/customers/and mobile payment. Like in the my opening, this idea for commerce seems very efficient and beneficial to the businesses that matter (not credit card companies). Co-founder of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, sets his sights to solve the entire experience of commerce through mobile. He is the CEO of Square, the mobile payment platform he is directing to be the “one, end-to-end, great, frictionless experience.” Dorsey explains that payments and transactions are too “mechanical and should disappear.” Dorsey and Square are another player in the mix attempting to reinvent commerce. His vision starts with giving back to the sellers and saving time for the merchants. I think this is going to be what drives mobile payment and new breed of commerce for the future. It is exciting and creative. Who wants to be the one to reinvent commerce? I don’t know about you, but I do. 

Bitcoin Talk

The virtual currency that has people talking, even opening bitcoin ATMs in Vancouver. There are people backing the virtual currency, attempting to get it’s use in the public majority. The future is still unclear much like mobile payments. Bitcoins have been used for good and bad. The thing for me is that the transactions and handling of bitcoins should be traceable. In the digital, big data world of today bitcoins might fit right in because they could be tracked and stored. The Bloomberg described the bitcoin discussion just right, saying that it is like “when the world was on the cusp of discovering the World Wide Web but hadn’t yet found the right user interface.” The same can be said for mobile payment platforms as well. The new virtual currency and commerce experience is on our front door step. 

On-the-Go: Mobile Advertising

Native Mobile Advertising

Mobile advertising is outbound marketing on the go. It dares to enter a game where mobile devices and content driven inbound marketing are the dominant players. Its daring attempt is well worth it. Companies need to see the benefits of it. One glaringly being that there is more mobile devices than human beings in the U.S.

Effective mobile advertising borrows characteristics from both outbound and inbound marketing. Being a call-to-action platform, a link for customers to go deeper within the product are ways mobile advertising is outbound. It is pushing customers to engage. With the limited working space of mobile devices, like phones and tablets screen sizes, mobile advertising needs to have effective content. Having this sort of inbound marketing feel, mobile advertising is not seen as the annoying and in-your-face advertisements we all know of.

A great way of accomplishing this is native mobile advertising. Being able to segment and position mobile ads that fit and flow within the actual page’s content is the end game. Mobile devices are depended upon to deliver convenient, quick, easy, and personalized content to users. Native mobile advertising does just that for the advertising world. We can see examples of tech companies like Airpush and Hubbl joining forces to create a new native advertising for mobile. The two company’s ad software development kit is “a content-based approach to advertising, where instead of interrupting the mobile app experience with banner ads or interstitials, ads feel more like part of the app itself, and are something users might actually want to clickthrough on and engage with.” This goes for both advertising whether on a mobile app or mobilized website. The graphic below, from hubbl’s website, displays the mix that mobile advertising needs to be effective on your mobile platform whether it may be apps or mobile webpages. Also on hubbl’s website, they declare that with their product you will “get industry leading monetization while earning good karma.” Mobile advertising leading to good karma? Advertising historically receives negative reactions, but as hubbl’s suggests, mobile advertising now can engage, earn, and retain customers. 

Not So Small After All

We know there is a gap between the number of mobile users and the amount of mobile marketing budgets. According to Mashable mobile ad spending is on the rise. Mobile advertising will  be an estimated $41.9 billion in 2017. As far as next year, 2014, they estimate mobile ad spending will jump up 37% from 2013’s numbers. A reason for mobile advertising increase could be due to small-to-mid size business now playing the game. Resources like Airpush and hubbl, are creating a new mobile marketing world that is expanding for everyone. In Mobile Marketer’s Classic Guide to Mobile Advertising, Carine Zeier’s article discusses the possible problems/solutions for small-to-mid size businesses in mobile advertising. I think Zeier’s article can be expanded to include all businesses. With her proposed ideas, businesses can effectively use mobile advertising to create the engaging, quick, and personalized content that mobile users want. Zeier’s 5 ideas are the following:

1. What do you want to go mobile with?:

This is the planning stage. Don’t just start mobilizing and optimizing everything without a plan. Do start with an idea to fully optimize your platform so it is an enjoyable mobile experience.

2. Look at it from the consumer’s point-of-view:

Going mobile with advertising needs to be centered around the customer. Mobile devices are personal and the ads need to not compete with that.

3. Segment, segment, segment:

The idea of always learning and using tools and services that allow you to segment the market and get your ads to the correct audience.

4. Use DIY tools to save cost and increase agility:

The information is out there you just have to find it and use it. Do-it-yourself and everyone wins.

5. Build your own customer loyalty club:

The idea of customer data as an asset. Track everything. Analyze the data. Reward your customers.

The mobile advertising world is open to all sizes of businesses not just big brands.

Mistakes Are Common

The KISSmetrics blog points out the power in mobile marketing/advertising. However, they are also quick to point out the big mistakes that are common in mobile app marketing. These mistakes can be true for the entire mobile marketing experience whether in apps or mobilized webpages. They provide a problem/solution for five mistakes in app marketing. Much like Zeier’s article, the mistakes are due to a lack of planning and treating the app as a desktop experience. To solve and limit these mistakes, pay attention to design, build a customer-friendly app. Much like mobile ads should be engaging and personalized. The other mistakes are due to communication with the customer base. As displayed in the KISSmetrics blog, the number one problem for mobile apps is retention. 90% of the people downloading the app are gone within 6 months. The solution once again is building a user-friendly and personalized app design. The app should be designed for reoccurring usage. There needs to be constant communication with the customers using the app. Feedback, a rating system, and reviews are some of the ways to get this traceable communication with your customer base. Once again this is like mobile advertising and the attempt for mobile ads to be less noisy and more fitting within the actual page’s content.

The mobile experience, whether app marketing and/or mobile ads, is centered around engaging, quick and personalized content. It is a category that is still growing and expanding, but needs to be utilized by more business of all shapes and sizes. Studying and learning the do’s and don’ts of mobile marketing will help close the gap between the number of businesses using mobile advertisements and the amount of mobile devices being used 24/7. Mobile devices can make marketing convenient and available everywhere. Mobile devices are always on.

– Josh

 

 

Is Big Data Over-Hyped?

Why is big data such a buzzword in marketing? Can we just hop on a train, travel to big data land and profit from our analyzing of the data? We’ve seen data success stories from Amazon (unique product recommendations by customer), Orbitz (behavioral targeting of Mac users), Hollywood (predictive modeling through data) and Obama’s ’12 data-driven campaign victory. However, there are cases like Starbucks and their CEO Howard Schultz who has not hopped on the big data bandwagon. I try not to imply any negative connotations when calling it a bandwagon because it has proven to be a very successful marketing tool. But there is a sort of eeriness feeling for me about big data. In a Forbes article yesterday, CEO of Prosper Insights & Analytics, Gary Drenik asks if mass hysteria is driving the big data market. He defined mass hysteria as “a condition affecting a group of persons characterized by excitement or anxiety.” Drenik’s feelings on this article are based upon that his company “prides itself turning data into solutions.” He is hesistant to hop onto the ‘bigger is better’ attitude of big data. His article reminds us of the behind the scenes work that goes into big data. Where is the data going to be stored? What kind of data are you going to store? Do you have the personal to analyze the data? Yes, database marketing starts with big data, but it ends with the “ability of users to identify meaningful findings from relevant data for better informed business decisions by senior management.” As a current marketing student, this is wide open opportunity. Learning about data and becoming “data literate” will lessen this “mass hysteria” over big data. Big data and database marketing will be a tool in every marketers toolbox.

The article in Strategy + Business, The Four Types of Digital Marketer, classifies companies as either leaders, scholars, pioneers or novices.

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To be classified as a Leader, you need both insights and analysis (driven from database marketing) and platforms/activation. Scholars are all insights/analysis but have no profitable actions to show for. Pioneers are all platforms/activation, but no complimentary insights about their customers. This relates to the hype over big data. Not doubt big data and database marketing are proven to succeed. But for your company to be a Leader, the database marketing needs complimentary attributes that of “Pioneer” companies. There needs to be established positions on successful platforms and business model. Insights from data isn’t going to fix and make companies profitable. You can’t be all scholar and no pioneer. I, like Drenik and his Forbes article, think that that is why big data shouldn’t have such a hype to it. Rather, the database marketing, the analytics and successful insights from the data is whats more important here. Not just that every company should drop what they are doing and start storing every bit of data/information.

 

 

SQL: “One Good Search Can Take You #Anywhere”

Beneficial Technical Skill for Marketing

To be an effective analytic marketer and witness successful returns on marketing efforts, the path may start with SQL. We know human interaction and relationships with computers are constantly increasing, meaning almost everything is becoming digitized. Where excel was once the tool for database marketing, SQL is the new tool every marketer should know for a world of digital marketing. Vault Analytics told us that SQL will change our lives for the better. In order to become a better marketing analyst, “you have to know how to leverage SQL…[and you will] do things you’ve never imagined possible.” SQL is THE efficient way to store, retrieve, and manipulate data for your marketing objectives and goals. Some are discouraged and fearful of the SQL learning curve. Sources, such as the udemy blog, show insight into how knowing basic SQL query structure can improve marketing teams. Below is a snapshot of udemy’s blog showing the two great benefits of SQL for marketing.

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These two benefits briefly show the importance of data and being able to use it in today’s marketing world. Everything is increasingly becoming centered around speed and efficiency and SQL can serve both of those. In Moz’s blog, Every Marketer Should be Technical, they defined a technical marketer as being able to “devise, develop, launch, and analyze their marketing campaigns with little or no assistance.” The Moz blog continues to show a fictitious step-by-step process for a simple marketing effort where SQL is a player that every team needs. With the planning/objectives/forecasting thought out and in place, a SQL query was used to create an email list of the target market. That simple. Using all the data in the database to generate a email list to effectively target and successfully reach the communication objectives of the campaign. Step 10 of the Moz blog, “Automate for ongoing success,” reminds me how continuous A/B testing efforts build a companies fast-moving experimental system, and continuous SQL efforts build a companies data culture. It’s important for a company to build a data culture because data is all around us in this digitized world. 

Companies Using SQL

The official Microsoft blog’s A Data Culture for Everyonethe CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, describes “data culture” as “with the right tools, insights can come from anyone, anywhere, at any time.” For a company to have a successful data culture is for everyone to have access to data at their fingertips. For individuals of company to be able to use SQL queries in their marketing campaigns is an experience that “brings order to data sourced from myriad sources.” Aside from the fact that Microsoft in the end is trying to sell their product (SQL Server 2014), the CEO Nadella does genuinely express the importance and opportunity that tools like SQL offer. We can compare this to companies like Barnes & Noble, Twitter and Uber that list SQL knowledge/experience in their LinkedIn job opportunities. At Barnes & Noble, their Analyst, Database Marketing SQL position, is to be filled by someone “with vision and energy to help us in our quest to change the future of reading.” In their quest to change the future of reading, Barnes & Noble believes that experience in SQL statements and a “strong” understanding of relational database tables will be the answer. 

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Whether its a company about printed materials, like Barnes, or a company like Uber that does business in the digital world, both show the importance of SQL in marketing. Here is Uber’s LinkedIn job posting for Marketing Analyst

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As you can see the third bullet is “strong SQL skills.” They believe that a marketing analyst with SQL skills will aid them in their effort to “collectively drive growth and enhance user engagement.” It just goes to show that if Barnes and Uber are thought of as opposites (books vs. smartphone app), that both companies know the importance of marketers having SQL knowledge in their toolbox. 

Then we have Twitter and their LinkedIn posting for a Data Scientist – Analytics. They live in world of extremely large databases. Here, a marketing analyst needs the ability to “write and interpret complex SQL queries.” Below is a inspirational video that Twitter also put on their LinkedIn job posting. It was effective at getting the point across about data and the digital world. That being, data can easily and quickly be shared at the click of a button. The video ends the viewer with, “One good search can take you anywhere.” I think this relates to SQL and how it is an effective tool for marketing. No matter the type of business, like Barnes & Noble vs. Uber vs. Twitter. Each company seeks marketing analysts/database marketers/data scientists, whatever you wanna call it, that have a working-knowledge of SQL.

A/B Testing: Failing & Improving Quickly

Start With What We Know

We know (following quotes used first by these Microsoft guys) :

“One accurate measurement is worth more than a thousand opinions” – Admiral Grace Hopper

“Almost any question can be answered cheaply, quickly and finally, by a test campaign. And that’s the way to answer them – not by arguments around a table. Go to the court of last resort – buyers of your products” – Claude Hopkins, Scientific Advertising, 1922

A/B testing gives us exact insight on what works and what does not.  In their guide to controlled web experiments, the Microsoft guys coined the term HiPPO (Highest paid person’s opinion) and directed us to “listen to customers not HiPPO’s.” A memorable phrase to remind us that customers know best and are the straight shot at learning more and improving ROI. Accurate measurements and listening/learning from customers are two traits of A/B testing. Using A/B testing and knowing the do’s and don’ts can be easier said then done. There are sources like Smashing Magazine’s eBook “The Ultimate Guide to A/B Testing,”  to provide insights into the world of A/B testing. We are quick to jump to the conclusion that A/B testing is amazing and easy-to-use. Rightfully so, as the Microsoft guys point out  “[f]ailing fast and knowing that an idea is not as great as was previously thought helps provide necessary course adjustments so that other more successful ideas can be proposed and implemented.” I think this is where the money is. When a company is able to build an experimental system that is proven to work and is followed by employees, then that is when the company as whole is encouraged and empowered to seek improvement through change. A/B testing, when used correctly, can lead companies to “fail fast,” yet quickly think, innovate and move to the next chance to improve. Like the Microsoft guide pointed out, a proven success story of building this type of fast-moving experimental system is Amazon. Their company culture allows “data to trump intuition.”

Case study example from Unbounce:

How video on the landing page impacts conversion rates:

In the graph on the right, challenger’s D and H were both landing pages with video versus challenger J with no video at all. You can see, without question videos had higher rates. The difference between D and H was that H was an embedded video whereas D was a pop a lightbox modal pop-up video player.

Potential Hiccups

 If that is what we know and strive for, (a fast flowing experimental system that allows for more innovation) then we have to talk about potential hiccups. Where the Smashing Magazine’s e-book listed the do’s and don’ts of A/B testing, I think this HubSpot article by Joe Lazauskas really did a good job at hitting the 5 things to avoid/remember in A/B testing. The 5 things to avoid are:

1. Blindly optimize for conversion

This is the whole notion of making sure you have well-thought out control/treatment variables, overall evaluation criteria, test subjects, and everything else I haven’t mentioned for good practiced controlled experiments. Lazauskas points out to not be focused on “conversion without context.” Its just important to step back and remember this so that you’re on the correct path to the fast flowing experimental system that provides solid results. You can’t just A/B test everything. You have to do the planning beforehand.

2. Create the test before you set your goals

This is what I just touched upon. Basically, “when two versions of an idea pop into your head, it can be very tempting to just jump in to a test willy nilly, which leads to unclear results.”

3. Forgetting there are other letters in the alphabet

Another obvious thing to avoid, but needs to be said. I thought of it as a way to not limit your ideas to just A/B options, or rather two options. As long as the planning and goal setting are in place, then A/B/C/D…testing is okay. It’s okay to have more than one treatments/new versions.

4. Ignoring more advanced metrics

I thought this was the most important because it really shows that there needs to be more thought put into A/B testing. I liked that Lazauskas used the movie Moneyball and GM Billy Beane as an example of how to use and think of more advanced metrics. The example was how the A’s found a way to win not using traditional metrics and stats, but instead used sabermetrics. So in A/B testing, don’t always use benchmarks like page views, but also use social sharing for example. “Think about it. What would you rather have — 3,000 visitors who leave your content without doing anything, or 1,000 visitors who engage with your content?” – Lazauskas

5. Failing to separate mobile and desktop

Finally, remember to integrate A/B testing across all platforms. It’s just a really important point, but another example of how A/B testing isn’t necessarily easy-come-easy-go. There is a lot of planning to do in order to execute properly.

Final Thoughts

What I like most about A/B testing is that it can lead to success stories like previously mentioned, Amazon. With a good experimental system in place, a company can use A/B testing and quickly learn what fails and what does not in the customer’s eyes. Being able to do this process quickly without messing anything up, saves time which allows even more time for more innovation and improvements. HubSpot’s article of the list of 5,  is an example of reminding us that planning before the testing is extremely important even when it may seem so obvious.

– Josh

Codecademy: Building Internet Literacy One Tag at a Time

Messing Around with Codecademy

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I know! Its embarrassing that I am still using Vista as you can see. I blame it on my laptop. It still functions after nearly 6 years and I don’t “need” another. (Although I “want” another)

It was able to run Codecademy so its all good. I threw on the tunes on Spotify and began working through Codecademy’s tutorials on html and CSS. This was not my first encounter with coding. I briefly got the basics down while building a quick website as a project for MIS using Microsoft’s Visual Studio program. It was enough to learn and remember the tags and formatting of html. Codecademy however, was a far more effective re-introduction to coding.

Re-Introduction to Coding

First time around, coding and myself did not mix very well. We didn’t mix because it felt messy with no direction from the professor. I was able to learn because it was a self-taught kind of assignment, but I didn’t come away with very good feelings about coding and the html language. This time around, I felt relaxed, engaged and hip. Codecademy gave me a direction and I code’d away while listening to my music. Both experiences were learning experiences, but Codecademy was by far the better. It may be due to my inexperience with Microsoft Visual Studio, but I liked how Codecademy’s workspace showed the index file for inputting code and the results box. With my experience with Visual Studio I had to save the file and refresh the website page after each addition to the code. Codecademy showed the inputs and outputs right next to each other. It was much more rewarding way to learn coding.

Codecademy’s Tutorials

As for the actual results of what I did inside Codecademy:

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In my first two hours on the site, I began to build a Mariners page highlighting King Felix’s perfect game. In the screenshot above, you can see four elements to the page. I learned the basics of adding pictures, text links, and embedding videos. Of the two pictures, the logo has no link where the picture of Felix is a link to the YouTube video of his perfect game. In other tutorials, I also learned the basics of the <style> tag and formatting and positioning the elements of a webpage.

Final Thoughts

My re-introduction to coding through Codecademy left me with a new outlook. Beforehand, I thought coding was interesting, but I never came across an excuse to look into it. Now, I have tools and resources to further experience the coding language and world. I don’t remember exactly, but somewhere while working the tutorials, I read how learning html and CSS is all about exploring and teaching it to yourself. To some its learning and mastering a new language. To others it can be an enjoyable game-like and creative outlet. Reading about how coding can connect and better lives of a group of people, like the non-profit Coalition for Queens success story, displays the positive “experience” of coding. Like the founder of Coalition for Queens said in the article, “I believe  there are extraordinarily talented people outside the usual audience for tech.” My experience on Codecademy reflected this whole movement towards internet literacy. The founder of Coalition for Queens and everyone involved in the Access Code program are pioneers for bringing people, other than the “usual audience for tech,” into the learning experience of internet literacy.

Here is my progress after two hours on Codecademy.

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– Josh